Mangoes in the Monsoon, Free in Bali

Sara Shah

(Europe, UK, US)

Mangoes in the Monsoon

There is a specific moment of time when the Earth converges with the Heavens. The heat is heavy, and the rain is rolling in. There are a few moments right before the true magnitude of the showers hit as the atmosphere of Mother Earth and the Divine intertwine, making love, and from their passion comes a single fruit. This is the moment of the mango.

Nothing can compare to the perfect neon orange and apricot hues hidden behind the water-coloured canvas of reds, evergreen, and shades of yellow. The skin peels back so easily you don’t even need a knife, and below the leathery layer sits perfectly ripened and dripping flesh begging for your lips.

The mouth celebrates the perfect flavours which melt in ecstasy, honeyed sweetness, and ripened joy, sinking against the curves of your teeth. There is no fruit which can reveal the true purpose of living except for the tropical mango ripened by the humid air before the monsoon and baked by the sun.

Knowing this, at the market they will ask you when you plan to indulge in the nectar of the sky. Answer carefully and with great thought, because the Balinese merchant who answers you is like a pharmacist sent directly from God to prescribe the perfect antidote to whatever afflicts your soul knowingly or unknowingly. The dose will provide exactly what you need.

Only consumed by uncontrollable sparks of passion as you suck the last bits of flesh left over on the hull of the giant seed, will you finally realise you have tasted peace. You will be overjoyed to be here, overjoyed to live now, in this season of heaven on earth – the season of the ripened Balinese mango.


Free in Bali

Drooping breasts, oval breasts, round breasts, knockers, and flat-chesters unite — Bali is the land of free women.

The longer you stay in Bali, the more comfortable you become to live your life braless, and, if you are one of the brave ones, undiless entirely. Perhaps it is Bali’s divine feminine energy, maybe it’s a subconscious way of attracting more potential mates, or really it’s just an acceptance of freedom.

Freedom to let them hang, to let them lop, to let them bounce, and dance, and pop through your loose cotton dress. Don’t bother packing bras in your suitcase to Bali, after a week they don’t get any use. Enjoy the island wind blowing against your bare nipples as you ride on a scooter — you’ll taste a freedom the founding fathers of any soon to be nation yearn for.

You’ll never want to go back, you’ll dream of a forever braless life, you won’t remember how or why you locked your breasts away in the confines of the bra, and you will never go back. Enjoy it, embrace it, cherish it while it lasts. Because as much as you hate to admit it, as much as you won’t believe it at the time, one day you will return to your old country and an old state of mind.

You will be broken down again. You’ll accept your fate, you’ll once more lock those breasts away. It will be a sad day; you’ll dream of their freedom, salivate over a taste you can’t quite remember. Like a colonised people, your breasts will eventually never be able to remember what a life of true freedom felt like — it will be a faraway dream, a fairy tale, a story of the land of free women and a land of freer bosoms.

The pieces above are excerpts from her unpublished memoir Wayan, a journey of rebirth and growth in Bali, Indonesia.

Sara Shah

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.

Sara Shah is a travel memoirist and poet. She writes of her adventures around the world as a woman travelling on her own. Her journeys and writings take place on both internal and external planes.


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